“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

I Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.

MEMORY VERSE: And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. —I Peter 4:8

CENTRAL THOUGHT: God’s self-giving, sacrificial love in our hearts will teach us to be kind and long-suffering; it will expose and remove envy, pride, rashness, selfishness, anger and ill will. It covers and bears with faults and endures hardships, fervently and genuinely caring for every individual.


I Corinthians 13:1 “Tongues”: languages. “Charity”: goodwill; from a word which means “to prefer;” hence, a moral preference or act of the will. “The word agape which is used here for love is peculiar to the New Testament (and a few passages in the LXX.). It is not to be found in any heathen writer. The [English] word ‘charity,’ which signifies either tolerance or almsgiving, is an insufficient rendering of the original, and destroys the force of the passage, especially in I Corinthians 13:3, where ‘almsgiving’ without love is pronounced worthless. The Latin caritas was used as the rendering of agape, probably because the ordinary Latin word amor (love) was considered too significant of a mere earthly or fleshly affection; and hence the word ‘charity’ in the English version” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). “Sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal”: a piece of metal which makes a loud noise; or a clanging cymbal, an instrument that produces no intelligible tune.

I Corinthians 13:3 “Feed the poor”: dole out; feed by giving a bit of crumb or morsels. “To be burned”: “Both at this time and in the persecution of Diocletian, there were Christians who, oppressed by debt, by misery, and sometimes even by a sense of guilt, thrust themselves into the glory and imagined redemptiveness of the baptism of blood…. The extravagant estimate formed of the merits of all who were confessors, became, almost immediately, the cause of grave scandals. We are horrified to read in Cyprian’s letter that even in prison, even when death was imminent, there were some of the confessors who were puffed up with vanity and pride, and seemed to think that the blood of martyrdom would avail them to wash away the stains of flagrant and even recent immoralities” (Lives of the Fathers, by Frederic Farrar).

I Corinthians 13:4 “Suffereth long”: Long-spirited; perseverant; patient. The opposite of quick-tempered. “To be patient in bearing the offences and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be long-suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). “Kind”: mild; benevolent; full of service to others. “Envieth”: from “zēlóō (an onomatopoeic word [a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes], imitating the sound of boiling water) – properly, to bubble over because so hot (boiling); (figuratively) ‘to burn with zeal’” (HELPS Word Studies). “Vaunteth”: boast; brag; show off. “Puffed up”: from the word for “air bellows;” inflated; arrogant; proud.

I Corinthians 13:5 “Behave itself unseemly”: unbecomingly; improperly; indecently. “Seeketh not her own”: is not self-seeking. “Is not easily provoked”: from the word meaning “sharp,” meaning to sharpen or excite the mind; rouse to anger or wrath. Tyndale translated: “Is not provoked to anger.” “Easily” was not in the original. “Thinketh no evil”: does not reckon, impute or keep account of the evil.

I Corinthians 13:6 “Rejoiceth not in iniquity”: finds no joy, does not delight in, is not glad for sin, injustice, unrighteousness, or wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth, with the truth; whenever the truth wins out.

I Corinthians 13:7 “Beareth”: from a word meaning to “roof over”; to cover; endure patiently. “Believeth”: have faith in; entrust. “Hopeth”: expect; trust. “Endureth”: remain under the load; bear up against; persevere.

I Corinthians 13:13 “Abideth”: remain; do not depart.

I Peter 1:22 “Unfeigned”: unhypocritical; sincere; genuine.

I Peter 1:22 and 4:8 “Fervent”: earnestly; strenuously; without slack; to maximum potential. From the Greek word ektenes and teino—stretched out or fully extended— from which we get the English term tension or tense. “Charity shall cover”: forgive; cover, to hide and keep from seeing; procure a pardon. “The mutual love of Christians, their kindly words and deeds, check the work of sin; their prayers, their intercessions, call down the forgiveness of God” (Pulpit Commentary).


The apostle had been giving guidelines for worship and ministry to the Corinthian church as correction for a lot of chaos that had obviously been characterizing the gatherings in that church. The women had been speaking out of turn and causing disturbance. Several people were trying to speak in different languages at one time, creating confusion instead of unity. The sacred communion service had become a feast instead of a time of quiet reflection on the sacrifice of their Savior. In the last verse of chapter twelve, after properly lining up spiritual gifts and callings, the writer seems to look at the whole picture and receive a special inspiration. “Wait,” he seems to say, “I see a way of living and worshipping that is even more excellent than proper protocol.” And he begins to describe how it all sounds without the one motivating force which is the true, pure life of Jesus Christ in the soul, and how only love, springing up and overflowing, creates the peace, the comfort, the gentle courtesy, the freedom for which every heart yearns.

The apostle Peter also saw the immense need for the church to cover all thoughts, motives, intents, reactions and emotions with fervent, flowing love. Fervent love covers a multitude of sins, he says, possibly alluding to Proverbs 10:12 (also James 5:20).

A warm and tender heart, so willing, submissive, sacrificial and kind at the beginning of marriage can in time become cold, hard, rebellious, critical, resentful, and cruel. I Corinthians 13 warns that believers who are active in preaching, praying, and giving alms can become this way.

It is so hard to see ourselves! We can preach to others about dealing gently and wisely with a spouse or child and not realize that the years and hardships have actually brought changes in our own hearts.

“A good marriage is not one where perfection reigns: It is a relationship where a healthy perspective overlooks a multitude of ‘unresolvables’” (James Dobson). The covering/ bearing quality of love is what creates that healthy perspective. When it becomes clear that a characteristic we dislike in our spouse isn’t ever going to change, it’s time to entreat God for a fresh supply of His forbearing love.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Having a gift of another language but preaching it with a lack of love in the heart is like what unpleasant sound?
  2. How was it possible to feed the hungry or even become a martyr while not yet having the heart full of the love of Christ? Explain how this took place in ancient times, and share how something like that could happen in the home.
  3. The word “envy” describes a boiling pot. How can that happen in a family?
  4. Give the word pictures used in I Corinthians 13:7, “beareth all things” and I Peter 4:8, “cover.” What kind of heart motive is described here, and what passion of Christ Himself is this portraying? Give an example of applying this in marriage and family life.
  5. Discuss how an inflated ego or a self-serving attitude keeps a spouse from bearing the fruit of genuine, fervent love.


Climbing out of the ruts of blame and unsolved problems is an act of faith that will keep the coldness from setting in. Just as the manna was gathered fresh in the morning before it spoiled, couples need to rise early and pray to bind the evil one that fights marriages, and be filled with grace (unmerited favor) to impart to each other.

Pressures of finances, stresses of family life, misunderstandings, sickness, etc., can destroy a marriage; but as the couple is honest and willing to communicate by listening to each other, even though it will take much time and effort to understand, the spark will amazingly rekindle. If each spouse is willing to make adjustments with humble grace, the Lord will be glorified by their lives together. The song says, “I promised the Lord that I would make it somehow, and I love Him too much to fail him now.”

A husband has a need to feel safe and understood by his wife. Remember that as wives we can bear a lot more than we think we can because God partners with us, understands, and gives us grace, strength, and the ability to forgive and move on. From a practical standpoint, wives, remember four things:

  1. Give your husband space to be himself.
  2. Take the pressure off your husband to make you happy, and find your ultimate fulfillment in God. Your happiness means the world to your husband.
  3. Tell him often what has exceeded your expectations.
  4. Cut your words down to simply 25%, and be ready to listen and understand without giving a lot of details.

Couples need to remember to sing and live the words to #270 in our hymnal, “Standing Firm.” Married life has its ups and downs, but through it all, be committed to “Hear the voice of our Commander,” Christ. We are not fighting against flesh and blood but against Satan. Pray for “the powers of hell to surrender and be a valiant overcomer” over your spouse’s faults, yourself, your wants, and your disappointments, to submit to the greater cause of unity and togetherness.

—Bro. James and Sis. Tricia Bell, Sapulpa, Oklahoma

Married August 20, 1977